Info packets available for Council hopefuls

San Angelo City Council candidate packets for the May 4 election are available online and at City Hall. The District 1, 3 and 5 seats will be up for election. Newly elected officials will serve four-year terms.

The filing period for candidates begins Jan. 16 and will continue through Feb. 15. Candidate packets can be downloaded at cosatx.us/May2019. Physical copies are available in the City Clerk’s office in Room 204 on the second floor of City Hall, 72 W. College Ave. The office is open weekdays 8 a.m.-noon and 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Candidates will file the necessary paperwork in the City Clerk’s office once the filing period begins.

Candidate packets contain applications, information and forms about the process for those considering running for City Council. Questions can be addressed to City Clerk Julia Antilley at 325-657-4405 or at julia.antilley@cosatx.us.

Potential candidates and voters can access a map of City Council districts at cosatx.us/council. Locating which district one lives in can be determined by clicking the GIS map viewer on the same page.

To be eligible to vote, San Angelo residents must be registered by April 4. Voter registration applications are available at the Tom Green County Election/Voter Registration Office on the first floor of the Edd B. Keyes Building, 113 W. Beauregard Ave., and at all three Tom Green County library locations. Applications can also be obtained online at VoteTomGreenCounty.org, by mail or by calling 325-659-6541. Completed applications can be returned in person or by mail.

Citizens can also register to vote when renewing their driver’s license in person at a Texas Department of Public Safety office. To determine eligibility to vote or current voter registration status, visit votetexas.gov/register-to-vote. Voter registration applications are also available at the link.

Paper, Nos. 3-7 plastics no longer accepted recyclables 

All paper and Nos. 3-7 plastics will no longer be accepted in the City’s curbside recycling program under a contract change the City Council approved today.

Those items are being excluded from the recycling stream because they are not profitable commodities. The acceptable recycling materials are:

  • Flattened corrugated cardboard.
  • Boxboard, cereal and frozen food boxes.
  • No. 1 and 2 plastics. No. 1 plastics include soda and water bottles, mouthwash bottles, peanut butter containers, salad dressing and vegetable oil containers. The latter three should be cleaned before recycling. No. 2 plastics include milk jugs, juice bottles; bleach, detergent and household cleaner bottles; and shampoo bottles.
  • Steel, tin and aluminum cans.
  • Empty aerosol cans.

Customers will continue to receive curbside recycling pickup every other week, alternating with bulk pickup on their collection day. There will be no change in the rates customers pay.

“We are pleased to be able to continue to offer this service to our citizens, which contributes to both the preservation of natural resources and the extension of our landfill’s lifespan,” City Manager Daniel Valenzuela said.

Customers who use their recycling bins as a second garbage can are subject to have the green containers removed. A second garbage bin is available for an additional monthly cost.

Our Home. Our Decisions.

That’s the theme of a Texas Municipal League campaign the City Council has endorsed voicing concern about state government overreach into issues and decisions that are best determined at the local level.

The message is straightforward and sensible: Citizens should have a voice in matters that impact us, our neighbors and our community. Texas is far too large and too diverse for politicians gathered in Austin to decree one-size-fits-all solutions for Frisco and Laredo and San Angelo.

We confronted just such an issue two years: short-term rentals. You may recall this debate pitted the view that San Angeloans should be able to rent their homes for brief periods while they are away versus the argument that such rentals diminish the quality of life in residential neighborhoods.

About the same time Austin was also wrestling with concerns about short-term rentals. In each instance, the respective City Councils forged compromises that didn’t make everyone happy, but seemed to have served their communities well.

So, no one could reasonably argue the issue of short-term rentals demanded a state solution. And yet, into that fray the state is wading.

The state attorney general has sought to have Austin’s short-term rental ordinance overturned in court. A Texas legislator last year tried to pass a state law regulating short-term rentals; another such effort is expected once lawmakers convene in January.

During the upcoming legislative session, other pre-emption laws are expected regarding plastic bags, payday lending, tree ordinances … and, believe it or not, chickens. (The Texas Senate in 2017 passed a bill that would require cities to allow homeowners to allow up to six chickens in a backyard.)

The most worrisome proposition is artificially capping the property tax revenue a city can generate. Proposals have ranged from 2.5 percent to 6 percent of what was collected the prior year.

On the surface, that’s an appealing idea. But it would surely spark unintended consequences. For example, cities could be forced to end property tax abatements as an incentive to lure private investment and jobs.

Even more vitally, revenue caps would hamper public safety efforts.

More than 52 percent of the City of San Angelo’s general fund budget is dedicated to our police and fire departments; the property tax accounts for 46 percent of the general fund’s revenue. In essence, every penny of property tax collected is spent providing and supporting police officers and firefighters.

Over the past two years, the City has added 10 officers and 16 firefighters. Those additions will translate into quicker response times and greater protection. Had San Angelo been subject to an artificial revenue cap, adding first-responders might not have been possible.

This effort to reduce the local property tax burden is, frankly, misguided. Texans pay far more in school taxes than city taxes. That’s because state lawmakers have gradually shifted the burden of funding schools from the state to the local level. If the Legislature is earnest in reducing the local tax burden, it will reverse the trend and fund schools to a greater extent.

Another troublesome proposal calls for mandatory elections to issue certificates of obligation, which are a financing tool.

San Angelo is using CO’s to fund $80 million in street projects … without raising the property tax rate. Keeping in mind that all of our property taxes are essentially devoted to public safety and the state wishes to cap revenue, imagine how we would otherwise fund those street improvement efforts. (We couldn’t.)

In short, the most important decisions we make as a community involve the sorts and levels of services we want and how much we are willing to pay for them. That decision can best be made here in San Angelo, not in Austin.

The City is fortunate to have a collaborative working relationship with state Rep. Drew Darby, whose efforts at the state capitol have benefited our community immeasurably. Unlike some of his colleagues, Rep. Darby has never sought to handcuff locally elected officials. Perhaps that is because he is a former San Angelo City Council member and better understands the plight of local government.

Others in state government have expressed interest in pre-empting local regulations, calling state oversight a superior approach. We disagree.

Like all Texans, San Angeloans don’t want to be told we must conform to one way of thinking or one way of living – regardless of whether that comes from Washington or Austin. Neither do we care whether our neighbors in Frisco and Laredo make decisions that differ from ours.

As our friends at the Texas Municipal League point out, whether it’s burnt orange or maroon, sweetened or unsweetened, or red salsa or green … there’s no one way of being Texan. That said, there is one thing we can all agree upon: We want to continue making our own decisions about our hometowns. And that’s especially true here in San Angelo.

Daniel Valenzuela is San Angelo’s city manager. Contact him at 325-657-4241 or daniel.valenzuela@cosatx.us.

City IDs, pursues next water supply

The City of San Angelo has identified the leading option for its next water supply and taken the first step toward its development.

The Concho River Water Project is a move to extend San Angelo’s sources beyond its lakes and the Hickory Aquifer. It will do so by adding a reliable and sustainable source that will help meet water needs for decades to come.

The project involves releasing highly treated water from the City’s wastewater treatment plant into the Concho River. After it has flowed down that “natural pipeline,” the water will be recouped farther downstream. From there, it will be piped to the water treatment plant, where it will be treated to drinking standards.

“This is water San Angelo already has,” said attorney Jason Hill, the City’s special counsel for water. “We’re just able to make better use of it. It’s a win-win for the community.”

On Sept. 18, the City Council unanimously agreed to pursue state permits that will ensure the water is treated to adequately high standards before its release into the river.

Prior to recommending the Concho River project, engineers and City staff studied 24 possible water supplies. Those included surface water, groundwater and direct reuse. The experts and City officials concluded the Concho River Water Project is a reliable and cost-effective source, will produce water with an improved taste, can be developed relatively quickly, and utilizes proven science. Cities have long released their treated wastewater downstream into streams, rivers and lakes. Treated wastewater from Ballinger, Robert Lee and Winters, for instance, flows into San Angelo’s primary water source, Ivie Reservoir.

“We are releasing it into the Concho so we have what we call an environmental buffer,” said Scott Hibbs, principal water resource engineer with eHT, an Abilene engineering firm. “So we’re letting Mother Nature take care of some of the treatment aspects.”

Securing state permits could take as little as two to three years. Completing the entire project could take about five years and will cost about $120 million dollars. That includes upgrades to the water and wastewater treatment plants. Those improvements would be needed regardless of which new water source was chosen.

When completed, the Concho River Water Project will produce about 7.5 million gallons per day. By comparison, the Hickory Aquifer is currently capable of producing 8 million gallons per day, although that is being expanded to 12 million gallons. San Angelo averages about 12 million gallons of daily usage.

Work continues by the West Texas Water Partnership to develop a long-term source that can serve San Angelo, Abilene and Midland. The Concho River Water Project will help meet local water demands for about the next 50 years.

 “This takes San Angelo a long ways down the road of water security,” Hill said. “And when I say a long ways, I’m talking generationally … 2060, 2070.”

The project will also diversify San Angelo’s portfolio of water sources. Because the City will not be dependent upon any one source of water, San Angelo will be better able to weather times of drought.

Learn more at cosatx.us/WaterUtilities.

State of the City

City Council 2017-6

(Back row, left to right, Lane Carter, District 5; Tom Thompson, District 2; Daniel Valenzuela, City Manager; Tommy Hiebert, District 1; Harry Thomas, District 3. Front row, left to right, Billie DeWitt ,District 6; Brenda Gunter, Mayor; Lucy Gonzales, District 4.)

The City Council is a seven-member policy board for the City of San Angelo. 

The Council meets twice a month at the McNease Convention Center, 500 Rio Concho Drive. Meetings are open to the public and are usually held on the first and third Tuesday of every month at 8:30 a.m.  

Who is your City Council member? Visit our online GIS map viewer.

City Council member profiles

Mayor Brenda Gunter

 

Tommy Hiebert, District 1

 

Tom Thompson, District 2

 

Harry Thomas, District 3

Lucy Gonzales, District 4

 

Lane Carter, District 5

Billie DeWitt, District 6

Who is your City Council member? Visit our online GIS map viewer.

Watch City Council meetings

City Council meetings air daily on SATV (Suddenlink cable channel 17 & 117) at 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. 

   

 

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